The Punjab parties
In Jalandhar outfit, former leader is glad that the party is finally over
OF THE 255 parties delisted by the Election Commission, five had registered Punjab addresses. The founders of two — Punjab Janata Morcha in Jalandhar and Democratic Bahujan Samaj Morcha in Nawanshahr — said their parties have long been defunct. So apparently has Labour Vikas Party, whose registered Ludhiana address is now home to a family. At the remaining two addresses, both in Ludhiana, residents said they didn’t know that a party had been ever been registered from there.
Punjab Janata Morcha
REGISTERED ADDRESSES: Panj Peer, Jalandhar-144001, in 1989
ON THE SPOT: At the 250-sq-yard building once rented by the party, there now are two small shops and a small dhaba. A few old chairs and a table are the only furniture.
The party, a breakaway group from the Janata Dal in 1989, declared itself defunct in 1997. One of its leaders, Gian Chand, said it is good that the EC has finally delisted the party. “The Election Commission used to send us letters and we would always reply that the party does not exist,” he said. “In 1997, the party president himself declared it defunct and wrote to the EC that there is no party of this name now.”
The president was the late Kirpal Singh, a former Janata Dal leader, who broke away after being denied the Amristar ticket in 1989, got elected MP independently, and then formed the new party.
“The party did not have an office. It ran from the building of Samaj Sewa Trust,” said Gian Chand, general secretary of the trust and a member of the Punjab SC/ST Commission. The party never fought an election independently; it was backed by the SAD in 1997 when it contested and lost Amritsar.
Asked about funding and audits, he said funds collected by the president were so little that the party could not even afford an office of its own.
In 2002-03, most of the party’s then members joined V P Singh’s Jan Morcha – Gian Chand was a former Punjab president – but the former PM’s son Ajay Pratap Singh eventually later joined the Congress and disbanded the state units of the Jan Morcha.
Labour Vikas Party
REGISTERED OFFICE: 1407, New Preet Nagar, Tibba Road, Ludhiana
ON THE SPOT: Now home to a family, the building has a group of shut shops at the front, with Aam Aadmi Party posters on the shutters.
This party was started by Vassan Singh, a union leader. The family who lives at the registered address could not say where Vassan Singh is now. Opposite the building, a man running a gas agency said, “Vassan Singh started this party 8-10 years ago but it was discontinued. He sold the premises and moved, we are not in touch with him.” Another neighbour suggested that Singh might have moved to a flat on Chandigarh Road. The Indian Express visited a number of flats on Chandigarh Road could not find anyone of that name.
Punjab Pradesh Vikas Party
Registered office: HO HIG-970, PHB Colony, Urban Estate, Focal Point, Ludhiana
ON THE SPOT: Once party office, later school, now rented house
Two employees of the premises’ current owner live here now. A sign on the wall shows that at one stage, Sant Kabir Public School ran from the building. Harinder Pal Singh, the current owner of the building, said he is unaware of any party registered from this address. “We bought this residence from a person called Randhawa; we are not in touch with him. Randhawa used to run the school, which shut,” he said.
Lok Hit Party
Registered office: Basti Abdulapura, Ludhiana-3
On the spot: A large settlement.
Basti Abdullahpur is home to hundreds of migrants working in industries. The Indian Express spoke not only to many workers but also to local councillors, MC officials and leaders of various parties. No one knew Lok Hit Party had ever run from there.
Anju Agnihotri Chaba & Divya Goyal
Contested against Atal, filed cases ‘against
REGISTERED address: Gaya Prasad Dharmashala Complex, Charbagh Sabzi Mandi, Lucknow
ON THE SPOT: At dharamshala the founder occupied, few remember him
The party has been defunct since the founder, Maharishi Avadhesh aka A B Shorewal, died over a decade ago. One room of the dharmashala from where Avadhesh ran the party has made way for a physiotherapy centre. Only a few persons here remember him at all. Kamta Prasad, one of the residents at the dharmashala, said Avadhesh used to run the party from his one room in the dharmshala.
It was from Som Prakash Gupta, trustee of the organisation running the dharmashala, that details emerged. He remembered Avadhesh as a serial litigant and poll contestant who lived there for more than a decade until his death. “He was a deputy SP who had been dismissed. He came to live here in one room, then filed cases against all functionaries of the dharmashala. When I took charge in 1995, I contested those cases. He never paid rent. He had no family and when he died, we performed his last rites,” said Gupta.
In the 1991 Lok Sabha election, Avadesh won 270 votes as an independent candidate from Lucknow. In 1996, he got 138. The winner both times was Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“He would type petitions sitting in his room. He filed one case against former mayor Madan Mohan Siddhu,” recalled Gupta.
Others in the trust say Avadhesh hailed from Etawah and he used to move around with guards after filing a nomination. They say that visiting the courts was a daily routine and he even filed petitions against former PMs Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
3 from delhi
They launched the parties, the legacy did not continue
In Delhi, which accounts for 52 of the 255 parties delisted, The Indian Express came across a number of parties that ceased to exist after their founders died.
Jan Sewa Party
Registered address: J-7, Laxmi Nagar, Vikas Marg, New Delhi-110092
On the spot: Relatives of the party’s founder, who died years ago, live on rent
A woman who lives there on rent, a relative of the party founder, was quite annoyed the flood of journalists who have visited since morning. She handed over the phone number of the founder’s son and shut the door. Arjun Singh, a local electrician, volunteered the story of his late friend P K Kundu, who after retirement from a job at the passport office decided to form the party, which had hardly other member and dissolved after his death in his eighties some seven years ago. “He was very enthusiastic, even contested an election from this area,” said Singh. Kundu used to live alone, his family having moved out.
Rashtra Suraksha Parishad
Registered address: A-2/79, Paschim Vihar, New Delhi-110063
On the spot: Vacant plot. Family of party founder sold property to a builder, who has pulled it down to build afresh.
P D Aditya was an advocate with an interest in politics; he once contested a Rajya Sabha election on a Samajwadi Party ticket, his son Vir Bhadra said at his new address. Aditya registered the party after retiring but started keeping unwell. He died in 2000, less than three years after starting the party. “My siblings and I were busy and couldn’t find the time to wind it up. We don’t know much about the party except that the Election Commission used to despatch correspondence to our old house. That stopped eventually. A few years ago, officers from the IT department came asking about the party. It’s okay if the EC deregisters it,” said Divya Shakti Party
Registered address: 7/106, Ground Floor, Geeta Colony, Delhi-110031.
On the Spot: Wife of the party’s founder, who died years ago, lives with her children.
Party founder B L Dua has been dead for eight years now and so is the party, said his wife Shama, who lives with her children in this small home. He had a small factory and also ran a Mata ka Darbar. “He just wanted to form a party. Shauk tha unhen,” she said, adding he never contested a poll.
ASHUTOSH BHARDWAJ & RITIKA CHOPRA
Here, they remember a man who borrowed a lot and then vanished
Registered address: C-44, Padmanabh Nagar, Bhopal
On the spot: Two claimants to that address; one vacant, another a small house
Sarvadharma Party has its address at two spots in Bhopal, separated by 100 metres, yet it does not exist.
There are two claimants for C-44, Padmanabh Nagar, the registered address of the party. One is a vacant plot with a notice board clearly identifying the owner who lives nearby in a big house, and the other a modest home in an adjacent slum without any marker.
Brijesh Pathak, the man who formed the party, did not leave a good impression when he left the locality. Those who remember him use “fled’’ for his disappearance, because he owed money to a lot of people.
Hailing from Satna, he took with him all the party signboards and flags. He sold the house, built on encroached land that was later regularised by the government.
Those who got pattas chose to number their plots exactly the same way as houses in the adjacent colony are numbered. Unlike the colony, these numbers are not written anywhere but the owners seem to know them by heart.
“He was a farji (fake) man who dabbled in politics and fled. I don’t know if he ever contested any election. Look for him in the slum behind,’’ said S S Yadav, a resident of C-55, who owns the vacant plot. “I did not know he borrowed my address, I don’t even know his name,” Yadav said surprised that a political party has his vacant plot as its address.
Guptaji, the man who bought Pathak’s home, is not impressed with him either. “He had a lot of potential and used to attract good crowd in his political meetings but he dug his own grave,” he said. not wanting to discuss it more but adding that he did not keep in touch to avoid running into his creditors.
Prabhavati Shakya, who identified herself as the editor and owner of a daily newspaper, said Pathak disappeared and probably fell ill. “What difference does it make if he contested or did not contest elections? He was not exactly fake but his activities did not stand him in good stead either.” She said he removed a party board before leaving.
He wanted to be President, feels he is God’s avatar
Registered address: Devika Apts, 2nd Floor, Pune Camp, in 1995
ON THE SPOT: Home of the founder, who admits his party exists only on paper
Lakhanlal Bahrunani started his party in 1995 hoping to weed out corruption. Today, he believes he is an incarnate of God.
He said his antar atma told him that he was Lucky-Kalki, the final incarnation of Lord Krishna. “And since then I have started believing I am the avatar of God,” he said.
In between, he had wanted to be President. That was the only election any member of his Hindusthan Party tried to contest, in 2012. “The system conspired against me.., they rejected my nomination form without any valid reason,” he said.
In November 2015, he sent an SMS to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh about a possible threat to PM Narendra Modi during the G20 summit in Turkey. When police arrived, Lakhanlal claims to have pulled them up. “I asked them, ‘Why are you late? I sent the message at 7 pm on November 14 and you are arriving at 1 am on November 15… I grilled them and they left after two hours.”
ACP Bhanupratap Barge of the Anti Terrorist Squad said they investigated Lakhanlal and found nothing suspicious. “We conveyed this to Pune police,” he said.
Then over a year ago, Income Tax officials arrived. “I told them my party’s name will remain come what may… who are they to threaten me with deregistration?
Yet Lakhanlal conceded the party exists on paper. “My objective was to weed out the corrupt and serve the poor,” said Lakhanlal, who believes Prime Minister Narendra Modi government is now implementing this. “My party set the agenda two decades ago.”
Lakhanlal said his party never took off because he realised there were cheats and corrupt people everywhere. “Initially I had 20 to 25 members… but then realised they had nothing for the party,” said Lakhanlal, who now calls himself a one-man party. He said he collected Rs 200-300 from members and spent Rs 3 lakh of his own, having saved while working as a tailor in Hong Kong. There was no question of auditing as he was the sole donor, he explained.
A man with no interaction with neighbours, he lives alone, with his family settled in Hong Kong. Books, files and newspapers are strewn all over the house.